June is a spectacular time of the year at RSPB Mull of Galloway for many reasons. One of the most noticeable is the diverse and vibrant mix of wildflowers that are currently in bloom.
Thrift (Armeria maritime), or sea pink as it’s sometimes called, grows all along the cliff edges. It’s a perennial plant, growing in low clumps and sending up long stems that support globes of bright pink flowers that can be seen flowering for many months.
Sea campoin (Silene maritime), another coastal specialist as its name suggests. It is an attractive white flower with distinctive, fleshy leaves and is related to the carnation. According to ‘Plantlife’ other names by which it is known are 'dead man's bells', 'witches' thimbles' and 'Devil's hatties'.
Purple milk-vetch (Astragalus danicus) is a Red Data List plant, meaning it is endangered. It was once a common, widespread plant among grasslands but in Scotland it is now only recorded at coastal sites, mainly on the East coast. Purple Milk-vetch, was so named because it was thought to increase the milk yield of livestock.
Wild cabbage (Brassica oleracea) is a species of plant that includes many common foods as cultivated varieties, including cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, savoy and kohlrabi. It is a biennial plant, producing flowering stems in its second year that can grow to over 1 metre in height.
Spring squill (Scilla verna) is a members of the lily family, and is a relative of the bluebell and the wild garlic. It’s a perennial flowers and, like most cliff-top plants, is low growing but can be up to 15cm tall. It has lovely pale purple or blue star-like flowers which produced during the spring.
Tormentil (Potentilla Tormentilla). These tiny little yellow wildflowers are a member of the rose family. The yellow flowers appear throughout the grasslands and heath on the reserve. The plant is 10 - 40cm in height, often flowering just above other vegetation. It has tiny yellow flowers - 1 cm to 1.5 cm across. The flowers are similar to buttercups except that tormentil has four petals, whereas buttercups have five petals and are slightly larger.
Lousewort (Pedicularis Sylvatica) occurs in damp, poorly drained soils, such as acidic heathland, and cannot compete with more vigorous plants. Lousewort is a partial parasite as it extracts nutrients from the roots of other plants through tiny white suckers on its own roots. The pink flowers have an upright, hooded petal and a lower petal divided into three. Lousewort grows very low to the ground with lots of un-branched stems carrying dense small spikes of pale pink flowers. It got the name 'lousewort' because it was thought that sheep that grazed on it would suffer from lice.
Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine Pratensis) or lady's smock as it is sometimes called has clusters of pale pink, almost lilac flowers, each with four petals. It grows in damp meadows and moorland and along the sides of rivers and burns. The flowers occur in groups at the end of the flower stalk which droop and close up at night or during heavy rain. The cuckoo flower is so called because it flowers at the same time of year as the first cuckoos are heard.
If you would like to learn more about the wildflowers that grow around the Mull of Galloway then why not join Richard Baines, Curator at Logan Botanic Garden, for a free guided walk at 2pm this Tuesday (June 5th) at RSPB Mull of Galloway. Stout footwear is recommended. For more details click here
All photos by Rob Conn
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